Graham’s perfect ending

Overawed James Graham struggled to put into words the emotions he was feeling after the curtain on his glorious career came down in the craziest of ways.

Graham bowed out, expressing the heart on the sleeve emotions that have made him adored and respected across the sport.

A combination of unbridled joy, anxiety and, finally, elation, was all captured on footage as Graham awaited for the video referee to award St Helens the try that won them the Grand Final.

Graham, England’s all-time most capped player, broke down in tears in the aftermath of the contest. They were, however, tears of joy after so much pain in previous Grand Finals.

“It doesn’t really feel real,” he said.

“I really don’t know what to say, I feel like someone is going to pinch me and wake me up from my dream.

“Saying I saved the craziest 30 seconds of my career for the last 30 is a good way of putting it.

“When I was a fan, I remember watching ‘It‘s wide to West’ and thinking, ‘That’ll never be beaten.’ But now I think young Jack did that.

“It’s still sinking in now, but I think I’m going to dine out on it for while.

“I was trying to stay calm at the end. I just wanted to wait, I didn’t want to do the old VAR celebrate before and shoot your bolt. I just wanted to wait until the try was confirmed. I was like, ‘Just wait, just wait, just wait.’

“At the end I wanted to try and take some mental photographs. Look around and have a bit of appreciation for what the game’s done for me.”

Graham is now officially retired. A television career awaits him in Australia.

He will return down under a Super League champion and with memories of ending his career on his own terms, with his hometown club.

“Your greatest glory is not never falling but rising every time you fall; David Brent by the way,” he added.

“This isn’t why I came back; I came back to help as much as I could, winning the Grand Final wasn’t the be-all and end-all.

“In terms of the group, to quote David Brent again, ‘If you’re facing in the right direction, all you’ve got to do is keep on walking.’

“I’d just like to thank all the St Helens fans. I know they’ve had a tough year and not being able to watch us. But their support throughout this ordeal hasn’t gone unnoticed. I’d also like to thank the non-playing members tonight. I know sometimes that gets lost, but this year, especially with the fact there’s been no reserve team, but they’ve turned up, week in, week out ready to train, and they’ve laid the platform for why I think we were successful with their commitment to training.

“And my friends and family, fiancée and children for coming on this journey. They go to the edge of the multiverse for me and I can’t thank them enough.”

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